Congress legislators have been told to download a call recording application on their phones

BENGALURU:  The Congress has gone on an overdrive to protect its lawmakers sequestered in a luxury resort 60 km from Karnataka capital Bengaluru. But this time, it isn’t telling its newly-elected lawmakers to deposit their mobile phones to prevent emissaries from the ruling BJP from reaching out to them.

Instead, it wants them to install an app on their phones and record the calls they receive.

The Congress and the Janata Dal Secular have accused BJP leaders of attempting to bribe and arm-twist its legislators into supporting BS Yeddyurappa, who was today sworn-in as chief minister of a minority government. Mr Yeddyurappa’s BJP emerged as the largest party in Karnataka but with its 104 legislators, was short of the 112-majority mark.

The JDS and the Congress together have 116, along with independents, and had reached an agreement to back Mr Kumaraswamy as chief minister.

Mr Kumaraswamy had yesterday alleged that some JDS legislators had been approached with offers of Rs 100 crore in cash and cabinet berths to persuade them to switch sides. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar had rejected the charge and other BJP leaders had asked the Congress-JDS to back up its charge with evidence.

It is precisely for this reason, a Congress leader told NDTV, that legislators had been advised to download mobile applications that record phone conversations.

The leader cited a particular instance where B Sriramulu, the Molakalmuru lawmaker who is a key aide of scam-tainted mining baron Janardhan Reddy, had attempted to touch base with one Congress legislator. The phone call from Mr Sriramulu, who is an aspirant for the deputy chief minister’s post, however, got disconnected after some time.

Mr Sriramulu, however, has denied that the BJP was using money to lure legislators from rival camps. He told NDTV that he is confident about Mr Yeddyurappa crossing the majority mark of 112 seats. He didn’t spell out how the BJP would achieve this feat but insisted there were “like-minded” legislators in the Congress and the JDS.

It is not clear who he was alluding to. But JDS Leader HD Kumaraswamy has said the BJP and the central government was using central agencies to get a majority. Anand Singh has been threatened with action by the Enforcement Directorate in an illegal mining case, Mr Kumaraswamy said about the legislator, one of the two congress legislators who is MIA.

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